Boys & Girls Club of Newburgh turns to City Council to help save literacy and arts center project
The Boys & Girls Club of Newburgh needs to quickly come up with $500,000 or else the literacy and arts center the nonprofit is building on Broadway will stall. The project is already 70% completed.
In an unusual move, the club is asking the City Council for help.
Club leaders said if they cannot fully fund the $5.5 million project by Dec. 31, they will risk losing millions in time-sensitive historic tax credits from the state and risk bankrupting the project on the homestretch.
Second-grader Lexee LaBranche told News 12 she loves singing to her younger brother and is interested in the club's performing arts program, but the program has a waiting list because of limited space at the program's current location on Liberty Street.\
"How are you going to come that far just to give up?," Lexee's mother Tiffany said. "Nah, you could go all the way."
The club wants to sell a crumbling building next to its Liberty Street location that it bought in 2010, but has been unable to raise the $12 to $15 million needed to renovate it into a teen center.
The sale would cover nearly all of the club's outstanding bill for the new literacy and arts center on Broadway.
"We didn't anticipate this happening," the club's director Kevin White told the City Council during a Monday evening's meeting.
White asked the council to waive a reverter clause that blocks the nonprofit from selling off the blighted Liberty Street property. Some on council were reluctant.
"Our precedent in the past with reverter clauses is that we have usually said 'no' to those individuals," Councilman Anthony Grice said at the meeting.
During an interview at the Broadway project site Tuesday, White told News 12 that if the council lets the club sell the Liberty Street property, it will save the Broadway project.
"The benefit of this waiver is that the funds that come from the sale of the building will go to fund a youth center that's going to benefit the children of Newburgh," White said. "If ever you were going to make an exception, this would be the case."
White said that if the council does not approve the waiver, the project could "be lost," though he said his team will still try to raise funds to complete the project on their own.
Raising the $500,000 by year's end without a large donation or transaction would be difficult, especially since the project is not eligible for any more historic or arts grant from the state.
White told the council the Broadway project has reached its limit for state grant funding for a single project. White said multiple potential buyers are interested in buying the Liberty Street property in cash, which would shorten the closing process.
The City Council may vote later this month on whether to grant the waiver; five of the council's nine members would have to vote to grant the waiver for the measure to pass.